Tag Archives: cars

An Introduction to the Barrett-Jackson Auction

              For years the name Barrett-Jackson has been synonymous with high-end collector car auctions. Established in 1971, the Barrett-Jackson Auction is one of America’s best-known collector car auctions, attracting bidders from all over the world. The Jackson part of Barrett-Jackson is baseball great Reggie Jackson, himself a classic car lover. Often associated with rare classic muscle cars that go for upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the multi-day event has a diverse array of cars from many different manufacturers, spanning decades and even a few brand new ones, although the majority tends to be classic American cars. Several charities are represented at the auctions as well, with the money raised from cars going to them. They range from custom hot rods, ultra-original classics, resto-mods, and a few late model European cars as well. Part of the excitement of the auction is wondering what will be driven across the stage next. Bidding takes place in person, online, or over the phone. There is often a lot of excitement and energy that goes along with the bidding. Although there have been many ultra high-cost cars there is a wide range in regards to price, lower prices tend to be around the $20,000 mark. There are multiple Barrett-Jackson auctions throughout the year in the U.S. They even have their own year-round classic car showroom with cars for sale. Their website also mentions there is an automotive memorabilia auction as well. You can view their official website here: https://azure.barrett-jackson.com.
A Ford GT at the Barrett Jackson Auction. Picture by Rbdesimone
                     The Classic Car Auction Goes Mainstream.
               Barrett-Jackson receives live multi-day television coverage that spans a large part of the day. It also features numerous celebrities from the car world and beyond. With expert commentators, it almost feels like a sports event. In April of 2018, the auction was held in Palm Springs, Florida. Under and above car cameras help capture the action. Viewers could learn about cars by simply watching the coverage as the commentators delved into detail about them. There have been several records set at Barrett-Jackson as well. For awhile the record for the most expensive U.S. vehicle ever sold was set at the auction. The GM Futurliner, a unique RV/Bus looking vehicle that was used on promotional tours for GM. April of 2018, at the auction’s Florida location actor Burt Reynolds, auctioned off 3 of his personal Trans Ams and appeared on stage. One of which was an ultra-low mile Indianapolis 500 Pace Car complete with lights on the roof.
A GM FuturLiner. Picture by Binelli2011
Collector Car Auction and Beyond
               Barrett Jackson is a big event, with a lot going on not even counting the auction. They have their own line of merchandise. The multi-day event extends far beyond the indoor auction house. There is a lot to see and do not even counting the auction itself. As their website shows they have a diverse array of vendors as well. You can learn more about them here: https://azure.barrett-jackson.com/Exhibitor/Home As more and more cars become collectible, it seems the Barett Jackson Auction will be as popular as ever
Site of a Barrett-Jackson auction in Florida. Picture by Brett Levin Photography.

Guide to the NHRA’s Pro Classes.

            The NHRA or National Hot Rod Association is America’s largest drag racing sanctioning body. It was founded in 1951. Today it has several types of professional classes for cars and motorcycles. Some of which can trace their origin to the very early days of professional drag racing. Those classes have evolved and changed significantly over the years improving performance greatly.
Top Fuel Dragsters
The fastest class is the top fuel dragster. Also known as “rails” due to their long and narrow shape are capable of incredible speeds and acceleration. They have evolved over their 50 some year history, but one thing remains the same, going fast. They are characterized by their long narrow body and large back tires and skinny, almost bicycle like front wheels. The driver sits in front of the supercharged nitro-powered Hemi-V8. In place of a traditional steering wheel, there is an airplane yoke looking control. They have a single-speed system engagement. Depending on driver preference there may be a canopy covering the driver. It is common for dragsters to achieve speeds of over 320 mph.

A Top Fuel Dragster. Picture by clickphoto.

                                                              Top Fuel Funny Cars

Top fuel funny cars, easily recognizable by their lift-up bodies, share the same engine and drive system as the dragsters, although they bear more of a resemblance to a road-going car than a dragster. Their body is designed to maximize aerodynamics. The driver sits in the middle. Like dragsters, they have massive back tires to deal with the large amount of power they have.

A top fuel funny car. Picture by NaBUru38

Pro Stock
Pro Stock cars, also known as “door slammers” look more like a road-going car then funny cars. As their nickname suggests they have opening doors. They also have 5-speed manual transmissions and steering wheel that look like something similar to what is found in a road-going car. Unlike funny cars, the driver sits on the left side of the car. Until a few years ago they had large hoods scoops. They no longer have them giving them more of a production car appearance.

                                            

A pro stock car. Note the hood scoop. Picture by GSenkow.

                                              Pro Stock Motorcycle and Top Fuel Harley

One of the two main motorcycle classes in the NHRA is the pro stock motorcycles. They are powered either by a straight four or a v-twin engine. The manufacturers represented are Suzuki, Harley, and EBR. They sport a massive back tire which is the size of a car tire. Unlike the car classes, there is quite a bit of variation in the looks of the bikes. The Harleys, for example, do not have any bodywork covering their engine, much like their road-going bikes. It is common for a Pro Stock Motorcycle to reach speeds of over 195 mph. One of the most noticeable features of the bikes is their long wheelie bars.
Top Fuel Harley
A fairly new class is Top Fuel Harley. These bikes are unique in the fact that they have a parachute to help them slow down, much like other drag cars do to help deal with the higher speeds. This one-make class is modeled after Harley Davidson “baggers”, with large front fairings and they are powered by V-Twin engines using nitro.

The 2018 PRI Show.

The 2018 PRI Show.
For my second year in a row, I attended the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show. A good way to describe the PRI show is a smaller version of SEMA, with a focus on the automotive racing and performance industry. Located in Indianapolis, Indiana it is an annual event for industry insiders and journalists. It is not open to the public. Given the size of the show, I was able to see a lot of new things this year. It takes up two large convention halls in downtown Indianapolis and stretches under a road and right up to the edge of the Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts play. Indianapolis is a natural location for the PRI Show. Indianapolis and its surrounding areas are home to many performance companies. This is due in no small part for many of them due to the proximity of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s not too far from Detroit either.

A Porsche 911 GT3 Race Car.
This year I went to a section I hadn’t been to last year. I was able to see the RV and trailer section, right on the side of Lucas Oil Stadium. On the way there the hallway that leads under the road to the stadium was lined on one side with a wide variety of race cars. One that caught my attention, in particular, was a Chevy drag car turned land speed record car. After this hallway was a room full of what was called featured products. The RV and trailer section was huge. It went right up to the endzone of the football field in the stadium. I got the chance to talk to many different vendors. By scanning the QR code on my badge, they could sign me up for an email list.

One of the many race cars on display.
The brands represented varied greatly in size. One of the largest no doubt being Ford. Their performance parts division was represented with several Mustangs and a twin turbo pickup that was styled after a race car. The Hoosier Tire company had brought its dirtbike and ATV tires. They even make tires for smaller dirt bikes. I was surprised to see they had entered that market. It’s a good looking tire, with white lettering that is popular with cars right now. Despite the size of the event, with the app, it was fairly easy to find where companies were located. There were companies from several different countries. There was also a sizable section of the show dedicated to CNC machines; several were running and giving live demonstrations. One of Parnelli Jones’ Indy cars was on display. I’m really looking forward to returning next year to see what new things are added.

An offroad racer.

The 2018 Pontiac Nationals

The 2018 Pontiac Nationals.
                The Pontiac Nationals is the world’s largest all Pontiac/GMC car meet. It is held during the first full week of August. It consists of drag racing with multiple classes, both bracket and heads up racing, a large car show, swap meet, and vendors. It is held annually in Norwalk, Ohio at the Summit Motorsports Park drag strip. There have been some well-known cars in attendance. Pontiac drag racer Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick and his car are frequent guests. The Boss Bird, a replica of Arnie Beswick’s funny car and currently the world’s only nitro powered Pontiac funny car is a regular as well.
Drag racing took place throughout the entire day.

                It is a three-day event, from Friday to Sunday. I arrived Saturday morning. The practice had started for the races that would start in a few hours. The field on the side of the track was filled with show cars representing decades of Pontiacs and even a GMC semi truck. Closer to the track was the swap meet, which was still filled with parts and memorabilia. There is a lot with cars for sale. The cars racing were as diverse as the cars in the show; there was everything from station wagons to dragsters. Several Pontiac powered cars broke the 200mph barrier. There was also a classic super stock race featuring a variety of manufactures. On the other side of the track is a row of food vendors and a gift shop, designed like an old-timey town. There is a good selection of food, ranging from a pound of ice cream for a dollar to slices of pizza, beyond that are the pits for the racers.

A 1969 Trans Am at the car show.
                Splitting my time between the racing, checking out the pits, the car show and swap meet, I still didn’t get a chance to see everything. The racing continued on until Sunday, which was when the various award ceremonies took place. I left around 5 and headed back to Indiana. I look forward to returning, as there are always new things to see.

A GMC pickup getting ready to race.

The 2017 PRI Show


The 2017 PRI Show.
                I attended my first ever Performance Racing Industry or PRI Show on the 9th of December. This year the show celebrated its 30th anniversary. The PRI Show is an annual trade show for the automotive racing industry. It attracts companies from all over the world which was evident by the translators available. I was immediately blown away by the size of it. It occupied two large halls, as well as several smaller rooms in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. Coming into Indianapolis I was met with fairly light snow and somewhat light traffic (as light as traffic in a state capital could be). The Convention was right next to Lucas Oil Stadium. I parked and made my way across the street to the convention center. Once inside, I was immediately greeted by a large MOPAR booth. It turns out the Big Three were well represented at the show. Dodge had also brought out a funny car which was suspended from the ceiling by one of the main entrances. Booths lined the hall that separated the outside from one of the main halls. Ford Performance had several cars including Joey Logano’s Factory Five Daytona Coupe. Chevy Performance had brought several cars as well including a Hot Wheels themed Camaro.
          

NASCAR driver Joey Logano's Factory Five Daytona Coupe at the PRI Show.
Joey Logano’s Factory Five Daytona Coupe

                One of the first rooms I went into was a special showcase of products, in it; among other things were a Dodge Challenger and a Radical race car. Next, it was on to one of the main halls. Some of the larger booths had cars on display, which for some would be worth the trip alone. There were also plenty of celebrity autograph seasons as well. One of the cars that really stood out to me was Mark Donahue’s 1967 Lola Can-Am car. Interestingly the car is still raced several times a year. Can-Am cars really appeal to me as their general lack of design rules lead to a lot of creativity and variety in the series.

Mark Donohue's Lola Can-Am race car at the 2017 PRI Show in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Mark Donohue’s Lola
                Before I went to the PRI Show I downloaded their phone app. It features a floor plan and the ability to search for products by category. It was a good way to look through the myriad of vendors and associations present at the show. There were also plenty of places at the convention center to eat, which worked great for me. Two slices of pizza later I was ready to continue exploring. Even if you stayed on your feet for almost the entire day it would be hard to see everything. I arrived shortly after it opened and left at closing and there was still some stuff I didn’t have time to get to. The racing sim challenge looked like a lot of fun, where attendees could compete with each other for a prize. However, I didn’t have the chance to try it or the other racing sims available to try at the PRI Show.

                Fittingly for Indianapolis, several of A.J. Foyt’s Indy Cars were on display courtesy of the Indianapolis 500 Museum. It was amazing to see how much the cars had evolved during the course of his racing career. There was a wide range of manufactures, from the Big Three to small family businesses. Many different racing disciplines were represented as well, including drag racing, oval, dirt track, and road racing. It was a lot to see in one day; however, I managed to see most of it. I had a great time and I look forward to returning to it. I can only imagine how much bigger it will become. If anyone else went please feel free to let me know about it in the comments.

Several of A.J. Foyt's Indy Cars on display at the PRI Show.
Several of A.J. Foyt’s Indy cars.

The Pontiac-Oakland Museum


The Pontiac-Oakland Museum
             A museum that is well worth the time if you are into cars is the Pontiac-Oakland Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. It’s been at this location since 2011. I’ve been to the museum several times now and every trip back there is something new. Pontiac, Illinois is not unlike many other small cities in the Midwest. Its downtown is a square built around a courthouse. Pontiac, Illinois the sort of city that could easily be mistaken for a town. It’s about 3 hours from Chicago, out in the country surrounded on all sides by fields. The museum is located on the square, and frequently plays host to car shows representing all kinds of different makes and models.
             The museum is owned and ran by the husband and wife team of Tim and Penny Dye. It is truly a labor of love. The amount of work that goes into the museum by them and the volunteers is immediately evident as you walk in. The museum plays host to an ever-changing line up of cars that span a century of automotive history. There’s usually even a race car or two. It even goes beyond cars, there is a section dedicated to Chief Pontiac, the Ottawa chief that the brand is named for and a recreation of a 1960s (soon to be 1970s) campsite. The museum also has its own library. A room stocked with a wide range of books and magazines. Want to find a period road test of your classic Pontiac? There is a good chance it’s in there.
             There’s a gift shop with all kinds of cool Pontiac related items, including a few classic things. I picked up a dealer exclusive model of a 1979 Trans Am there. It’s well worth the trip for Pontiac fans as well as car fans in general. You can check out their Facebook page here and visit their website at http://www.pontiacoaklandmuseum.org/.